Super Nova’s season to forget

Super Nova is one of those classic teams in both F3000 and GP2.  Brilliant drivers have passed through the team impeccably run by David Sears, including Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Webber, Sebastien Bourdais, Giorgio Pantano and Adam Carroll, winning 4 F3000 driver titles in the process.

The step to GP2 was initially a good one for Sears and Super Nova, with the team finishing 3rd in the 2005 inaugural season due to the strong season from both Carroll and Pantano.  The following year proved quite disappointing, with a promising José María López failing to prove his talent on track, and with Fairuz Fauzy adding zero points to the team’s tally.

Since then, Super Nova has had up and down seasons, even reclaiming that 3rd position in 2009 with a great season from Luca Filippi.  Yet in 2010 the team once again matched its worst finishing position, 9th place, after the team never really got off the ground with its 2 rookie drivers: Ericsson and Kral.  In May we wrote a post about Super Nova’s gamble and how it had yet to pay off.

Though the season improved, I am sure Sears expected much more from the highly-touted Marcus Ericsson and from a growing Josef Kral, though surely Kral’s untimely injury in Valencia probably prevented the Czech driver from evolving throughout the season.  Though the team was able to add some points, and even win the Sunday race in Valencia, ultimately racking up 19 and finishing ahead of Coloni by just 1, Super Nova must be hoping for better in 2011.   As I wrote in that post, the bet by Super Nova was either brilliant or foolish, and though it’s easy to judge after the fact, I would just leave it at a season to forget.

Five different drivers tested for the team in Abu Dhabi, with only Jake Rosenzweig and James Jakes testing for more than one day.  Oliver Turvey also tested for the team, as well as González, Ericsson and Sam Bird.

Though Ericsson seems to be drifting towards another team, Super Nova has a nice group of Brits to choose from, should they come up with the budget. Any one of the 3 Brits that tested, or even the more inexperienced Rosenzweig would make for a balanced lineup come 2011.   Though now more a midfield team that a top team, Super Nova’s reputation should help it brave this troubled season and once again be challenging for wins in the next GP2 season.  Best of luck…

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Red Bull return to GP2 now unlikely

With this week’s news that STR tester Daniel Ricciardo will be returning to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series (WSR) for another shot at the title in 2010, the slim possibility of seeing a Red Bull-backed driver in GP2 seems to vanish.

Ricciardo is Red Bull’s top driver in its junior program, with British F3 champ Jean Eric Vergne not far behind (though more talented, in my opinion).  With his confirmation in WSR, probably with Carlin, it is unlikely that Vergne will leapfrog Ricciardo and opt for a GP2 drive in 2011.

Unfortunately, and once again since Buemi left Arden in 2008, we will have another season without the powerful Red Bull marketing machine in GP2.  Highly surprising, not only due to the high promotion rate of GP2 drivers in to F1, but also given that the current F1 champs are not present elsewhere in the FOM-promoted racing ladder.

Brilliant strategy or just Dr. Helmut Marko being himself?

Who was missing in Abu Dhabi?

Though in general terms the end of season Abu Dhabi tests were not very relevant for many drivers (old car, old tires), it is nonetheless a chance to sit behind the wheel of a 600hp GP2 racecar.    That said, and given the number of seats and days available (96 seats over 4 test days), there were many “current” GP2 drivers missing from this post-season test.

For the fun of it, let’s run down the list of drivers who didn’t make it to the Yas Marina tests:

  • Jules Bianchi –  really didn’t need to be there, especially if there was still any doubt about his physical condition.  With one seat taken by Gutierrez, ART probably asked Jules to sit this one out while they sold the second seat to interested drivers.
  • Davide Valsecchi – his remaining budget was spent on his half-day HRT test.  He will be back in 2011, though I doubt it will be with iSport
  • Giedo van der Garde – focused on his F1 bid, Giedo probably didn’t want to be seen in a GP2 car anymore.  With Maldonado’s confirmation at Williams, his chances are dwindling and we may still see him on the GP2 grid next season.
  • Christian Vietoris – I thought he’d be around for sure.  Fully recovered from his untimely appendicitis, I would have thought Vietoris was anxious for some seat time.  But probably Gravity decided to spend its budget on putting Sims in a GP2.
  • Max Chilton – Though I expected him in Abu Dhabi, his shakedown run with Carlin is indicative of where he’ll be next season.  No reason spending money with other teams.
  • Vladimir Arabadzhiev – After his Lotus F1 run, I thought Vlado would stick around for GP2.  I would be surprised, though, if he’s not in this year’s GP2 Asia grid.
  • Johnny Cecotto – Pretty much the same story as Chilton.  Rumors have been linking him to Air Asia and Lotus for several months now.

All in all, a good number of the 2010 GP2 grid thought it a good idea to stick around for this 4-day test.  Let’s see who ultimately makes it back into the series for next year.